An official told Kathrine Switzer to “get the hell out” of the race in 1967. Nevertheless, she persisted.
Kathrine Switzer smashed gender barriers 50 years ago when she became the first woman to officially complete the Boston Marathon. But the most iconic part of this record-breaking endeavor didn’t happen at the finish line.
Switzer, then 20, donned lipstick and earrings when she showed up to the 1967 Boston Marathon as the race’s first official female competitor. Race organizers had unknowingly granted her this historic title because she used her initials, K.V., to register for the traditionally all-male event ― a move she has said wasn’t intentionally misleading.
As she made her way to the starting line, then-boyfriend Tom Miller encouraged her to wipe off her lipstick, worried she might provoke race officials. But Switzer refused.
She had only run a couple of miles before the marathon’s director, Jock Semple, took notice of her. He charged at Switzer and attempted to forcibly remove her bib marked with the number 261.
“A big man, a huge man, with bared teeth was set to pounce, and before I could react he grabbed my shoulder and flung me back, screaming, ‘Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers!’” Switzer wrote in her 2007 memoir.